Common Pitfalls in Retirement
Common Retirement Pitfalls
After a lifetime of hard work and careful planning, you deserve a comfortable retirement. Once you stop earning a wage, effectively maintaining your nest egg becomes more crucial than ever, and mismanaging your resources may keep you from achieving the lifestyle you’ve envisioned for yourself.
With that in mind, here are a number of common missteps made by retirees that you can learn from and avoid in your own life.
Spending Like You Used To
While it’s important to enjoy your retirement years, it’s critical to be realistic about your finances. Remain cognizant of the fact you’re likely not earning as much as you used to during your working years and you probably have more time on your hands, too. The first few years of retirement, in particular, can be a difficult adjustment period for retirees as they get accustomed to living on a fixed income.
Old spending habits can be hard to break. Start by identifying your various income sources – from Social Security to taxable and tax-advantaged investments – and then outline your current and future expenses. Be sure to consider not just your bills (medical, housing, etc.) but also how you’ll spend your time in retirement. Do you see yourself traveling the world? What types of leisure activities would you like to engage in? Use your projected monthly income and expenses to come up with a sustainable withdrawal strategy that’s reflective of your new reality.
Giving Too Much Away
Whether it’s spoiling the grandkids with toys and technology or providing some extra support to your adult children, giving too much money away is a frequent cause of financial strain for retirees. It’s okay to show generosity to loved ones, but keep an eye on your spending and ensure that it falls within your budget. Remember that your children and grandchildren are likely far better positioned to recover from financial difficulties than you are, so be careful not to put your financial security at risk.
Forgetting to Account for Healthcare Costs
Even if you’re healthy and active today, it’s advisable to have a healthcare plan in place for any possibility; after all, you never know when you might need it. The average couple can expect to spend over $315,000 in medical expenses during retirement, underscoring the importance of maintaining adequate insurance coverage in addition to a medical fund.1 Consider your current health, whether you’re predisposed to any health conditions, and what you might require in terms of long-term care. Then build a buffer into your budget for the unexpected. Without a safety net, an injury or illness could result in hefty bills that eat into your retirement savings.
Accumulating New Debt
Another common mistake people make in retirement is taking on new and unnecessary debt by upsizing or making extravagant purchases. If you’re considering buying a larger home, a fancy new car, or flying around the world in first class, consider how those expenses fit into your financial picture and whether you’d have to finance them with debt. Having an emergency fund can help ensure you don’t have to use credit cards or loans to cover unexpected expenses. If you have outstanding debt, prioritize paying down the accounts that charge the most interest to keep them from accumulating and draining your nest egg over time.
Your approach to investing should be reflective of your goals and circumstances, both of which change upon retirement and evolve over the course of retirement. If you had an aggressive investment allocation while working, you should consider a more conservative approach in retirement that’s less focused on long-term growth and more focused on capital preservation. Failing to adjust your allocation can expose you to undue risk and could result in losses that you don’t have the runway to recover from. A financial advisor can help you assemble the right mix of investments based on your circumstances.
Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
Diversification represents a pillar of any well-rounded investment strategy. Whereas being too heavily invested in one asset can leave you vulnerable to adverse market movements, diversifying your investments across different asset classes and within those asset classes can keep you from being too exposed to a particular name or sector. Diversification can help you manage risk and smooth out your portfolio’s performance during volatile periods. This is another area where an advisor can help you.
Paying Too Much in Taxes
Taxes may be an inevitability but there are ways you can reduce your total tax obligation by planning proactively. For instance, a Roth IRA may allow you to make tax-free withdrawals during retirement and you can roll funds into a Roth from your tax-deferred retirement accounts. Take some time to understand the various rules surrounding retirement account withdrawals so you can avoid having to pay penalties for withdrawing funds too early or missing a required minimum distribution (RMD). A tax professional can work with you to manage your nest egg in a tax-efficient manner.
Thinking in the Short Term
Perhaps the most common worry in retirement planning is whether or not you have enough saved to last the rest of your life. Advancements in healthcare and technology are constantly extending life expectancies and improving Americans’ quality of life, which can make it more challenging to anticipate the full cost of retirement.2 That’s why it’s important to plan conservatively and not sacrifice your long-term financial stability by taking a short-term view. Thinking of your retirement in five-year blocks may help you achieve a more complete picture of your golden years.
If you need help developing a retirement strategy to support your desired lifestyle, we can provide you with the guidance you need. Schedule a meeting here to discover how you can protect your wealth after leaving the workforce.